By Connie Bollinger
At first glance, one might doubt the wisdom of making a musical out of a classic horror story, but Next Generation Theatre Company’s production of “Jekyll and Hyde” proves that “all” it takes is an uber-talented cast, some spooky lighting, a fine orchestra, a savvy director and a classically trained operatic tenor to sing the lead.
Based on the Gothic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” first published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson, the musical horror-drama was originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, and features music by Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden. It debuted on Broadway in 1997, receiving four Tony Award nominations, and was revived in 2013.
The musical tells the story of a London doctor who is on a mission to solve the mysteries of human behavior and the duality of the human soul.
Unable to convince the hospital board of his need for a human subject, Henry Jekyll embarks on a series of ill-conceived experiments, drinking his formula himself, which unleashes Edward Hyde, the crazed counterpart of Jekyll’s subconscious.
Tenor Keith Boyer is electrifying in his interpretation of Jekyll/Hyde. His ability to perform the transformation from stuffy society doctor to hedonistic serial killer is nothing short of amazing.
Boyer makes this transformation with the use of his face and body, no funny teeth or mask. From the first act to the last, Boyer’s voice fills the theatre, whether it is as Dr Jekyll (“Lost in Darkness”) or the odious Mr. Hyde (“Alive”).
The two female leads, Mica Tharpe as Jekyll’s long suffering fiance Emma, and Jacqueline Roush as Lucy, the cabaret singer in love with Hyde, have voices as clear and vibrant as morning bells.
Featured players include Joel Garrett Brown, St. Louis native Jeffrey Hyle, Kay Love, John Robertson, Cory Frank and Jayde Mitchell — and all do a fantastic job.
The ladies of the ensemble treat us to “Bring on the Men,” a naughty bit of song and dance fun in an otherwise heavily dramatic landscape.
The production quality of this musical is very professional, with costumes by Riley Clute, choreography by Joe Elvis, music direction by Meredith Todd. And keeping all the plates in the air is Director Adam Grun.
Jekyll & Hyde is a musical horror-drama loosely based on the novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Throughout its long history and many revisions, “Jekyll and Hyde” has retained its message, its status, and its ability to make us wonder just what fresh horror lies within the secret souls of humanity.
Note: Rated PG-13 for violence.
“Jekyll and Hyde” is presented by Next Generation Theatre Company Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 at the Florissant Civic Center. For tickets or for more information, visit http://www.nextgenerationtheatre.company/jekyll/